The Biden administration is using a pandemic-related immigration order put in place by former President Donald Trump to continue expelling thousands of migrants back to Mexico or to their original countries, according to a new report.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the administration is using Trump’s “Title 42” public health order as a tool until other policies are put in place, not because officials think the border should be closed to asylum seekers, a source with knowledge of a call between the secretary and immigration advocates, reports CNN.
The order allows officials to expel immigrants quickly, and in January, more than 62,000 people coming across the border from Mexico were turned back. That number has been consistent for the past several months, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Most of the people who have been arrested have been single adults, but children and families are also complicating the Biden administration’s efforts to reverse Trump’s border policies.
“It’s bad and it’s getting worse,” a Homeland Security official said about the growing arrests, especially in south Texas.
Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security Matt Leas told CNN in a statement that the “border is not open, and people should not make the journey to reach it.”
Immigration advocates, however, are begging the Biden administration to drop Title 42.
“The use of Title 42 as a justification for their ability to do good in the future is also them making the choice that these children and families are expendable in the meantime. In my opinion, that’s wrong,” said Alida Garcia, vice president of advocacy at FWD.us. “They need to find a way to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the administration needs more time to deal with the border situation. But despite promises from Biden and other officials to change the border policy, officials soon realized they needed to keep Title 42 for now.
“The calculus coming in was that they finally accepted they couldn’t make big changes. They had to leave Title 42 intact,” a source involved in the situation said.
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